No Primary Part Of the Specter Deal

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 13:56

It turns out that Specter has been promised no primary opponent for switching parties:

Capitol Hill sources tell NBC News there had been active discussion between senior Democratic leadership and Arlen Specter for about three weeks.

NO DEM OPPONENT PROMISED: Specter was promised that the Democratic Party would fully support his candidacy as a Democrat and would not back any other Democrat seeking the seat. "In money and message," the party will be behind Specter. Any other Democrat who intends to run will "not have the blessing of the party."

NO CHAIRMANSHIP ON THE TABLE: Sources say Specter will not be given a chairmanship during this Congress, the 111th. For now, "chairmanships were not on the table" as a part of the party switch negotiations.

So, here is how I understand things:

  1. We get no new votes on legislation from Specter
  2. Democrats are given no opportunity to challenge Specter in either the primary or general election, thereby locking all of his bad votes into place even though he is in a blue state.
So, we not only get no new votes, but we lose the ability to challenge those votes. Apart from the image of total Republican fail, this isn't a good thing at all. Not only do we have to deal with Specter's voting record, which is worse than any other Democrat in the entire Senate, but we are denied the opportunity to even challenge him.

I like sticking it to Republicans. But I am also pretty pissed right now. We need to run a primary challenge against Specter anyway, leadership be damned.  

Chris Bowers :: No Primary Part Of the Specter Deal

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Harry Reid is the David Gregory of the Senate (4.00 / 13)
Very tough in doing things that are not worth doing, absolutely spineless when it comes to things that matter.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

Reid and Rendell planning major endorsement party.. (4.00 / 2)
Oh Really?? Who elected Reid to party Decider?

It's really worth noting that Specter compared himself to poor Joe Lieberman several times in his press conference and blames "the extremes of both the Right and the Left" .

Here's what the Lieberman side of Arlen's mouth said last week:

"I think the president is correct in saying that we ought to be looking forward and that you shouldn't prosecute people who operated in good faith relying on competent legal counsel. If there is evidence of criminality, then the attorney general has the full authority and should prosecute it. But going after the prior administration sounds like something they do in Latin America in banana republics."

Kiss Cheney and Bybee impeachment goodby too.

We need to find and support a strong new contender.  

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
Will this free Arlen to be Arlen? (4.00 / 1)
I just threw up a little in my mouth. Maybe he will moderate himself now that he doesn't need to appease a right wing base.  Josh Marshall has an interesting take on the EFCA stuff:"The real issue I suspect will be cloture. Labor support in Pennsylvania has always been critical for Specter. And this won't go down well at all. But his wiggle room will be cloture. If he will vote for cloture and let EFCA come to a straight majority vote, I suspect labor supporters will hold their nose and throw in their grudging support."

I sympathize with Chris on being hosed.

I live in a true blue state--I will have a choice in November

Specter Says He Won't Be a "Straight Party-Line Vote" (4.00 / 4)
For Democrats any more than he was for Republicans."

But, of course he WAS a straight party-line vote for Republicans! They were angry at him more because he made moderate NOISES than votes!

He SOUNDED like a moderate and they couldn't stand that. He got no credit for weaseling on what he pretended were his principles and for Kow-towing to Rush Limbaugh.

The question is: will he be the same kind of genuflecting coward for the Democrats as he was for the Republicans?

Or, as is more likely, is he simply trying to out-Lieberman, Lieberman by appealing to Independents and "moderate" Democrats who are ignorant of his actual positions on issues and like his "moderate" "bi-partisan" image on TV?

Regardless of what the party leadership says this guy desperately needs to be primaried!

[ Parent ]
He just repeated his big fat NO! on EFCA. (4.00 / 1)

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
Who says we can't primary him? (4.00 / 15)
Lamont got no support from the dem establishment, either...

With labor by our side, too, we can mount a very effective primary indeed... if nothing else, it may force Specter to actually prove he's a democrat and vote with labor again...

There's nothing here that's worth noting... This is our chance... with labor by our side, we can make the netroots a real political force to be reckoned with...

Let's get started!  Chris, you're in philly... You're the perfect point man!  Let's do it!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

Bring in labor (4.00 / 8)

  A strong netroots/labor coalition will make life much more exciting for Arlen Specter than he'd like next year.

  We just need to make sure that labor leaders don't sell out their workers as a part of this "deal".


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Unless labor is complicit in the deal (4.00 / 2)
Specter can be made to be very uncomfortable in a primary.

My guess: since Specter is a weasal, there will be a change to EFCA as it currently is drafted that will give Specter cover to switch again.  Also, there might be wiggle room on cloture versus a final vote.

John McCain won't insure children

[ Parent ]
Labor has a lot of leverage here (4.00 / 1)

 I wonder of they know it.

 Democrats have a way of not using their power.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
Harry can't carry his own balls and Mendenez of DSCC has none. (4.00 / 2)

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
Lamont had something else ... (4.00 / 1)
... a very large bank account.

[ Parent ]
And a single, extremely salient issue. (4.00 / 1)
Generic millionaire challenger won't have that this time.  "I'm running to support Obama's agenda" ("support Obama" being the only super-salient political issue right now) won't work when Obama is appearing onstage with your opponent and endorsing him.

The next 12 months might produce a single salient issue on which to run against Specter, but a generic "I'm more of a Dem than he is" won't work I think.  In particular because most of the proven, real Democrats (meaning people in high elective office with records, rather than millionaire Lamont-type outsiders) won't run.

[ Parent ]
Before and After (4.00 / 10)

 When Arlen Specter was a Republican, the Democrats had to deal with a senator who opposed EFCA, covered for the worst Republican criminal excesses, sabotaged all progressive elements to the federal budget, and generally preened about as if the world revolved around him.

 Now that Arlen Specter is a Democrat, the Democrats now have a senator who opposes EFCA, covers for the worst Republican criminal excesses, sabotages all progressive elements to the federal budget, and generally preens about as if the world revolved around him.

 Pardon me if I'm not exactly in cartwheel mode.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

PA Dems kinda fucked up (0.00 / 0)
While it is one thing for the DSCC to back Spector (which shouldn't be playing in primaries anyway), the expectation the "Party" will support him is facilitated because of the PA Democratic Party's sad stance against democracy.

On twitter: @BobBrigham

Just the PA Dems? (4.00 / 1)
Really? This isn't a symptom of a greater sickness?

[ Parent ]
", leadership be damned. " (4.00 / 5)
Could not agree more.

This is going to take a lot of energy and money. I asked in the last post about this is, is there a good name, or several?


What do we have to do to create the Real Democratic Party of Pennsylvania?

No on EFCA, No to Spector.


We need a candidate now!


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

We need to run a primary against the leadership (4.00 / 3)
Leadership be damned.  Torture approving beltway insiders describes all of them.

[ Parent ]
Good Luck with that! (0.00 / 0)
I have personal experience running against the Democratic leadership and you would be surprised how quickly you run out of friends.

The problem is that journalists, bloggers, consultants and anyone with political ambition quickly jump ship.  Money from everywhere dries up except the small donor base of true believers.

They jump ship because they know it is not in their personal interest to push this too far.

On that note I saw the Accountability Now Pac and I wonder about them.  Can you imagine if you could corral all the small dollar donors into races they could never win like Geoghan in IL-05 and keep them out races like Carol Shea Porter 's in 2006 where they might make a difference?  What a service to the leadership that would be.
I don't know that is their plan but I am very suspicious none the less.  I guess I am just cynical in my old age.

[ Parent ]
Who the hell is running the Democratic Party, (4.00 / 9)
and why the hell are they running it?

When Specter became the Democrat, he assumed the position as  the worst Democrat in the entirety of the Senate. If he is re-elected in 2010 as the Democrat from PA, he will almost certainly remain the worst Democrat in the Senate.

This isn't about getting anything we, as citizens and progressives, might want. It's about nothing more than Democrats in power staying in power, and building on their power to keep in power.

William Greider of The Nation the other day argued forcefully that what we as progressives need is to force Democrats to become more progressive in their policies even at the expense of losing a number of seats. That, he argued, is the only way more progressive policy might come about.

This move is in the exact opposite direction: diluting the already compromised meaning of the Democratic Party even further simply so that Democrats can rule the roost. The sole reward and purpose for this rule is that those in power have D's behind their names.

We're not going to get more good legislation out of this. We are going to get less.  

Damn the Leadership (4.00 / 1)
We need to run a primary challenge against Specter anyway, leadership be damned.   [emphasis added]

The pushback against the Netroots (or pseudoindependent Democrats, as I'd like to think of them) by The Party of late is forceful; more like they're telling people it's going to rain and then pissing on them, actually.


So when you say "leadership be damned," is that only in respect to primarying Specter, or does the thought extend beyond what has happened today?

how can they promise no primary challenge? (4.00 / 3)
I mean the PA Dem party can certainly promise to pressure any Dem politician, they can say we will ruin you if you dare to challenge Specter, they can certainly do that. But if there is someone interested in the challenge, and they go through the process, whatever it is, then you have a primary.

Doesn't read like "No opponent promised" (4.00 / 1)
From the text of that NBC anonymous quote, I don't come away with the conclusion that the national party promised no primary opponent, just that they wouldn't endorse or give support to one. So if anyone thinks they have the cojones and know-how to do it themselves, go fer it.

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."
-Lawrence Summers

[ Parent ]
Did the NJ Dems agree to this deal? (4.00 / 2)
Cause if they didn't, I'll bet Rob Andrews would happily move across the Delaware River so he can finally be a senator!

Primary Campaign (0.00 / 0)
Chris is right.  Specter is still a cynical political animal devoted to protecting entrenched power.  He jumped ship from the sinking Republican ship but has allied himself with the same conservative Democrats that also acquiesced to Bush's agenda.  

That said, recruiting and funding a primary challenge against Specter is going to be a huge challenge for the grassroots. We would need to mount an effort comparable to the effort to oust Lieberman.  

Meanwhile, Specter is 79 years old -- that's 7 years older than John McCain.  He's going to kick the bucket before the end of his next Senate term.  I checked the actuarial tables and calculated approximately a 10% chance that he will die before his next term even starts.  

We should have a progressive challenger ready.  But we should not concentrate our resources on this fight the way we did for Lieberman/Lamont.  If Specter wins (and he almost certainly will) we will have another fight soon enough and one that will be much fairer.  And there are so many people worthy of a primary challenge that we need to choose our targets carefully.  

this place is amazing (4.00 / 3)
Always searching for the gray clouds.  Hey, we all know Specter is a principle-free weasel.  Could it be that some or even many of his odious votes came because he had to keep up the facade of being a Republican, and facing a wingnut in the primary?  I can almost guarantee that eventually, he will waffle back to supporting EFCA, for instance.  'Now that the economy is recovering, etc., etc.'  But here, we get 'Primary him!  Damn the leadership!  As if Arlen Specter -- who has had Dem voters here snowed for decades -- was gonna lose a primary or 'turn left' because of some absurd primary challenger with no money, no party support and no interest outside the Open Left 'Obama is a DINO' brigade.  Geezus.

but... (4.00 / 3)
regardless if Spector becomes the most progressive senator in the history of the world, it is important to primary him for at least a few reasons:

1. it forces him to state his positions in a forum made of Democratic constituents
2. it makes him accountable for his positions.

If that doesn't occur, Spector can toe the moderate line and be a weasel about everything and that would be a huge problem and let down.

[ Parent ]
you would have more credibility if you made your guarantee explicit (0.00 / 0)
"I can almost guarantee that eventually, he will waffle back to supporting EFCA, for instance."

Specter has been unambiguous that his opposition to EFCA will continue.  That was basically the first thing he said after he decided to switch parties. His intentions are obvious to me.

But since you are "almost guaranteeing" that Specter will switch his position, would you care to make an actual wager?  How about a simple $50 bet to be paid by upon the 2010 general election?  

If you're really confident that Specter will switch, this would be easy money.  

[ Parent ]
Give him some time (0.00 / 0)
I suggest that "no new votes" as suggested by Chris is certainly a possible outcome, but a premature conclusion. I believe that Specter, as part of a Democratic caucus, will vote significantly different than Specter, with Toomey hot on his heels. This will be a matter of empirical observation. I suggest that he even may decide to vote differently on the budget coming out of the conference committee on Wednesday.

If we do not get any better votes, then yes, a primary challenge would be in order.

[ Parent ]
Party switchers vote with their new party (4.00 / 1)
The Demorats who switched to the Repub Party became mainstream Repubs -- from Colorado and as well as from Dixie. Sen Jeffords voted more with the Democrats after he crossed the aisle.

After all, the peer pressure is enormous.

Now every day Specter will spend much more of his time talking to other Senators who are Democrats. (If we are lucky his former Repub colleagues will snub him.)

His party leaders now are Democrats. If he wants a favor -- a colleague to co-sponsor or vote with him on a bill, or to see his legislation moved ahead in committee or scheduled for a vote on the floor, or even to insert a teeny little earmarked plum for some town or group back home -- the favors will come from Democrats.

Specter will want to stand apart from the Democrats on one or two high-profile issues, to maintain his pose as "independent". Usually those opportunities for show votes can be worked out quietly with the leadership. But once or twice he may really disappoint me. Still, I don't think he'll be a worse Democrat than the Senators from Wal-Mart, or the Nelsons, or even act the way Joementum did, backstabbing and undercutting his party on the Tube.

If I'm wrong about this, we will know soon enough, and have time to mobilize opposition. Until then, I'm with Joe Biden and Harry Reid: This bird is now in hand!

[ Parent ]
You are failing to acknowledge (4.00 / 1)
the obvious problem with Specter:

He will, for a near certainty, be less progressive than any other Democrat who might become Senator in PA. And, given the apparent dynamics of PA politics, Specter would very likely have lost to such a candidate if he had stayed a Republican (because he would have lost a primary).

Now the Democratic leadership is doing everything it can to undermine the possibility that Specter could be unseated by a more progressive candidate, as part of the deal.

So whatever benefits may come from this move will be in the next two years, and after that it's all negative.

And given how much Specter is likely to demonstrate his "independence" exactly when progressive policy comes up, and given how likely his voice as a Democrat will try to dilute progressive legislation even before it is formulated, it's not in any way clear that on balance we are going to get any benefit at all out of the man.

This is especially true for UHC. It has, supposedly, already been decided to be handled under reconciliation, which would require only 51 votes. Who needs Specter for that?

My concern with regard to UHC is that the real value of getting Specter to become a Democrat is so that the "divisive" move of doing it under reconciliation will be deemed no longer be necessary because of Specter's ability to defeat cloture. In that case, though, it will likely have to be greatly compromised still in order to get the 60 votes needed (Specter's included) to overturn cloture.  

[ Parent ]
i think the real danger... (4.00 / 1)
would have been Spector running as an independent. If he siphoned away too much of the Democratic vote, it would have allowed Toomey an opportunity to win the senate seat.

Toomey running was the wild card all along. His getting in set the stage for five obvious things to happen:

1. Toomey winning GOP primary, losing the general
2. Spector switching to Democrat and winning the general
3. Spector switching to Independent and winning the general
4. Spector switching to Independent and having Toomey win the general, or
5. Spector switching to Independent and losing to a more progressive Democrat.

Out of these five options, I'd have to say that Spector switching to the Dems isn't my first preference but it isn't nearly close to my worst.

[ Parent ]
So Sestak is an absurd dweeb with no money? (0.00 / 0)


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Who is our candidate, and where do I donate? (0.00 / 0)
What PA Dem would make a strong contender and be willing to take on Arlen in the primary?  It'll need to be someone labor and the netroots can rally around.

John McCain <3 lobbyists

What about Chakah Fatah???!!! (4.00 / 1)
Gutsy and wins the largest majority 88.6%% of anyone in Pennsylvania.

I think he's a sure fire winner.

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
Wow. You really know nothing. (4.00 / 2)
Fattah is a lousy candidate, and I say this as a member of the Fattah for Mayor Exploratory Committee (2007).

[ Parent ]
What does the number of Republicans and Democrats drawn into Fattah's district (4.00 / 1)
-- by a Republican legislature, mind you -- have to do with his ability to win a statewide primary against Arlen Specter?

[ Parent ]
Well... (4.00 / 1)
Here's how I see it.

If the Democrats DON'T take Specter, he has two choices: cozy up to the Republican base or retire.  If Toomey wins the primary and the election, we get a 100% wingnut.  Specter is just an asshat, not a total wingnut.  But if he wants to survive the primary, he needs to be an asshat impersonating a wingnut.

There IS some possibility that Specter could win the Republican primary.  These old dogs are surprisingly resilient.  

There IS also some possibility that Specter could moderate some of his views if he comes to the Democratic side.  His position in the party is tenuous, and he probably votes a little farther to the right than the deepest inclinations of his shriveled heart.  So it is possible that he could be of some use on a few key votes (he was a key vote on the stimulus).

There is a good chance of getting a solid Democrat in 2010.  But there's also the chance that we'd end up with a total wingnut, or an asshat impersonating a wingnut.  It's pretty likely Specter can win as a Democrat.

It's a totally risk-adverse Obama/Reid member-of-the-club style decision.  There is some upside, but it's a shame to lose an opportunity.

"Obama 'thrilled to have' Specter" & "you have my full support." (4.00 / 1) --
President Barack Obama talked to Sen. Arlen Specter at 10:32 this morning from the Oval Office, said Dems are "thrilled to have you," according to a White House aide.

Obama was informed of Specter's decision to switch parties at 10:25 this morning while receiving his daily economic briefing in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.

Obama was handed a note by an aide that read: "Specter is announcing he is changing parties."

The president reached Specter, one of only three Republicans to support his stimulus package, on the phone at 10:32 and told him "you have my full support." He added that we are "thrilled to have you." ...

Not so thrilled if Chakah Fattah runs..?? (0.00 / 0)

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.

[ Parent ]
we need to run a 3rd-party person -- liberal -- a bread-and-butter liberal -- (4.00 / 1)
not a primary challenger -- the party has made it crystal-clear for years now that they're not interested in what the majority of Americans want (single-payer, out of Iraq, no trillions for Wall St alone, etc)

not someone who pretends that the party cares, when they know full well they won't lift a finger for us and are not listening to us.

if the Lieberman thing didn't knock that into people, this Specter thing should -- they demand nothing in return -- ever -- and are all fine with that in DC.

we needed to give Dems control of Congress why? we need to get to 60 why? we're not gonna get what we want.

[ Parent ]
You are making things harder... (4.00 / 1)
A 3rd party campaign means a harder road to ballot access and no support in the General as the "nominee".

A primary victory (defeating Specter) means party support in the General.

General elections have far higher turnout and costs than primaries, though that also increases the difficulty of gotv and such - but if you need less votes to win, and you are dealing only within your own party (plus or minus a few indies and even R's who cross over) the dynamics are much more in the favor of the candidate stronger to the parties values.

My understanding is that PA has rules that prevent the "sore loser" tactic Lieberman used.  Specter has made his choice, he will run for the Democratic Nomination, if he fails he will not be on the November ballot, he will not pass go, he will not collect $200.  He will retire and ride off into the sunset of high paying lobbying.

The best way to reform the party is from within, stop electing moderates and mediocres and start electing true reformers.  Primary challenges and reward good behavior.

[ Parent ]
there's no way for a primary challenge here -- they've made it clear -- (0.00 / 0)
you can't do it that way here and win -- and Specter's numbers have always been higher among Dem voters than Repub.

[ Parent ]
primaries are run by state parties -- and they've already ruled it out -- (0.00 / 0)
what's gonna make them have a primary? going to court?

and is that really how you think you win a primary?

[ Parent ]
official nominating proceedures exist... (0.00 / 0)
They are filed with the state and are a party of the party by laws.  You cannot just say "for this election, we will do things differently".

Don't you think if that was the case, Specter would have been protected by his own party?

Please take the time to learn how the process works before commenting on it.  The statements made have been that they would NOT SUPPORT any other candidate, with time, money or any other resources, they cannot prevent someone else from running.

[ Parent ]
democrats, let me introduce to you your newest blue dog .... (4.00 / 3)
This is all about party power used to benefit the politicians rather than the people they purport to represent.  The dems now get to move further ahead of the reps on access to wall street and corporate america's trough.  If specter does not vote for cloture on efca then this will be a thumb in the eye of labor and progressives, but with rahm in charge it is likely that that vote will never even get to the floor and it will instead be used as a rallying cry to elect more dems in '10 just like the reps play the pro-lifers.  

This is terribly predictable ... as soon as I heard this I thought that the deal was probably to give specter an opponent-less primary and, as was proved, you can never be too cynical when it concerns the dc dems ... especially the ones in leadership positions ... not to mention the reps who are an order of magnitude worse.    


Arlen Specter (4.00 / 3)
Arlen Specter is the most opportunistic and least principled politician I have ever observed, and that is saying something.  He claimed to be a pro-choicer, but in order to Chair the Judiciary Committee, he vowed to support Bush's judicial nominees despite their overwhelming anti-abortion views.  This pattern is true on virtually every issue.  During the Clinton years, he led the charge against health care initiatives.  He must face a strong primary challenger in 2010 despite promises from the DSCC and the leadership.

It's the cloture votes that matter. (4.00 / 2)
I agree that this switch is all about clinging to power (on Specter's part) and consolidating it (on the part of establishment Dems), but it could still, on balance, be a good thing. Specter may well vote against EFCA and other popular Democratic legislation, but frankly I don't care where he ends up on the final vote as long as he votes for cloture. He claims he "will not be an automatic 60th vote for cloture," but that still leaves plenty of wiggle room. He's welcome to decide in each individual instance, after anguished reflection, that a bill he opposes still deserves an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. As long as he ultimately chooses cloture when he's the 60th vote, I'll be satisfied. His final votes on the losing side can be his sop to the "moderates."

Specter is likely to move left, but will he move far enough? Look at the effect Toomey's threat had; it pushed him to the right. In the absence of that threat, he will move left. How far? Who knows. But if he knows he will face a credible liberal challenge in the Democratic primary, it will have the same effect on him that Toomey did; it will push him away from the center. That's why we need to do everything we can to ensure he faces a primary opponent he could actually lose to. He has to know that a potentially energetic opposition is out there watching him and holding him accountable. If he's not afraid of losing, he will screw the left every chance he gets.

the Repubs will still do secret holds, and other stuff -- and there won't be 60 votes for what the public wants anyway -- (0.00 / 0)
this kind of things ensures that 60 votes will only come for rightwing things -- there are now tons of rightwing pro-corporate-only dems in both houses and in the WH.

[ Parent ]
Specter is likely to lie more about his positions from now til the election -- that's it -- (0.00 / 0)
like Lieberman did, and Obama, and Pelosi, and Reid and all of them..

he won't move left -- and doesn't have to -- the party has moved right -- moved to him.

[ Parent ]
Damn right!! .... (0.00 / 0)
We need to run a primary challenge against Specter anyway, leadership be damned.

Lets find a good, strong candidate willing to take on Specter ... while Sestak is not the best candidate ... I'd also support him over Specter .. there is no way Specter is getting my vote in the primary .. or the general

Before we get too alarmed about "no primary opponent" (0.00 / 0)
is it even possible that such a thing could be guaranteed?  Sure Obama might have pledged to support him but if he is the difference between EFCA and no EFCA and is generally a Lieberman or worse obstructionist, that pledge will be worth very little.  Anybody can run against him and several already have indicated their intention to do so.

This may not be great news, but it's not terrible news either.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

"We get no new votes on legislation" falls somewhere near the line between rhetorical flourish, (4.00 / 1)
and disingenuous.  And I absolutely hate to use that word on someone, particularly someone I like.

That said, I am not able to imagine how Chris might actually believe this to be literally true.

Every party switch ever has netted a whole bunch of votes.  Jeffords, Shelby, Nighthorse Campbell all switched their voting patterns pretty thoroughly.  I know Specter is saying today that "he'll vote the same;" he has to say that to maintain his political viability, otherwise he straight up admits to the cameras that his past votes or his future ones are unprinicipled.  There's no reason to take one spoken statement with a clear vector of necessity behind it at face value, AND let it override mountains of real historical evidence to the contrary.

I'm a little surprised about EFCA, but then that was a little too high-profile a stance to undo now, and ObamaCo was cool on it already.   On most of the rest, I think he'll be there.  You dance with them what brung you, and we brung him now.  In particular, Biden and Obama brung him now, and Reid and Durbin.  They'll get what they decide they really need.

I'm happy today.  It is true that we would have almost certainly (80%) gotten a better senator installed by 2011; but I am putting a lot of my bets on this Congress, now.  Times change, events change, winds change.  A terror attack, or a scandal, or a Katrina, or a much more serious recession than we currently expect could all happen.  I don't want to place my bets on the 112th Congress or on the 2010 elections.  They look good for now, but a lot can change.  I want to see as much good legislation passed in the 111th as possible, and I believe it just got a hell of a lot easier.  I'm a lot more sanguine about cap and trade now, for instance, and that was my biggest concern for the present administration.

I actually would support an effort to start a primary challenge anyway; a cold look at incentive structures shows that an outsider primary is still a good idea, even if everyone involved expects it to lose.  It helps deliver us more of Specter's more marginal votes, and helps pass more progressive legislation.  It's a great lever to use, and I hope we use it.  But I'm not interested in a campaign founded on untrue premises, and I think the idea that Specter got to switch and get Obama/Biden/Reid/Durbin/Rendell et al to bless him, in exchange for "no new votes on legislation", is untrue, and unfair to the Dems involved.  

If we don't get enough, or we get enough but think we can leverage more, fine.  But arguing that we got nothing is an argument from untruth, I think, and it's really bad juju to start a campaign that way.  And I actually think you cripple yourself out of the gate if you only sign up the kind of people who are inclined to believe that sort of thing.  Check out some of the comments above to see what I mean.

I would be very surprised (0.00 / 0)
if Specter's voting record over the next several months is not better than that of Ben Nelson's, Mark Pryor's, Blanche Lincoln's, and Mary Landrieu's.

Party switchers always move to fit in.  The Democrats that switched after 1994 had always voted our way more than the Republicans, but after the switch they suddenly became some of the most conservative of Republicans.


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